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Microsoft Fixes Windows Server 2003 and IE 8 SVCHOST Issue

IT pros may start to see lots of expired Internet Explorer updates showing up in their logs.

The phenomenon was noticed yesterday by Microsoft MVP Susan Bradley. On examining a server log, she counted a total of 514 expired updates associated with IE. In a Patchmanagement.org list-serve post, she speculated on the cause: "I'll bet this is [Windows] Server 2003 getting its SVCHost fix," Bradley wrote.

Sure enough, the prognosis turned out to be true. In response to her post, Doug Neal, a senior program manager for Windows and Microsoft Update, confirmed Microsoft's SVCHOST.EXE update was the cause, fixing an issue with Internet Explorer 8 on Windows Server 2003.

"True. Changes were made specifically to resolve the lingering issue with Windows Server 2003 with IE8 installed," Neal wrote in a Patchmanagement.org post. "Additional 'housekeeping' was to reduce the supersedence chains for a number of other IE updates to a more reasonable level -- and pull them very far away from causing the delays we saw before."

In January, Microsoft quietly fixed a problem with SVCHOST that had plagued some Windows XP users for years. Users would get delays in being able to use their Windows XP systems after bootup, lasting from 15 minutes to an hour, because SVCHOST was grinding through a list of old IE updates.

SVCHOST normally looks for services to load upon system startup. However, the delays users were experiencing were happening because it was checking through a list of so-called "superseded updates," namely, "old updates." Neal had explained this problem back in December, and Microsoft followed through with a server-side fix in January that essentially truncated that process.

That fix took effect without end users or IT pros having to take any actions.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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